For older adults of faith, church can be a foundation of life. That stability might be as simple as having somewhere to go every Sunday to give structure to the week. It might be more complex, such as having a place and people to call on when you need assistance.
Regardless, having to leave a church due to a life move can be a considerable change. Learn more below about some common struggles seniors of faith might deal with when leaving a long-time church and how a faith-based community can help.
Moving into a senior living community certainly doesn't mean you always give up time spent in your home church. If you choose an assisted living community near your existing neighborhood and home, you can often still attend services as you normally would. You may be able to drive your own vehicle to and from your senior living community, use public transportation to get to the church or have a family member, friend or congregant give you a ride. This is one reason many people believe it's best to choose an assisted living community in an area they're comfortable and familiar with.
Unfortunately, not everyone has this option. There may not be a senior living community near you — or not one that has the amenities and care levels you desire. You might want to move out of your city or state to be in a community near relatives. There are many other reasons someone might choose to leave their old neighborhood when making this change, and when that happens, they end up leaving their church as well.
Not being able to attend church services as you used to doesn't mean you're entirely absent from that body. You may still keep up with church friends, watch sermons online or visit on occasion. However, for seniors who are used to being active weekly in a specific congregation, these aren't the exact same thing, and it's normal to experience a few struggles.
You might have attended a church for years or even your entire life. You may be used to the fellowship of long-time or lifetime friends and family in that congregation, and it can be a shock not to see those people on a regular basis.
It's essential in these cases to remember that Christian fellowship comes in all forms, and if you're in a faith-based senior living community, you can probably find some of it right outside the door to your assisted living apartment. Start by looking at the opportunities for building community with other residents. Attending worship and meal times is a good start, but you can make friends and join in fellowship even more quickly when you take part in social activities in the community.
A look at any of the websites for the communities under the Bethesda Senior Living Communities umbrella will uncover an active community full of opportunities to make new friends. Whether you like crafts, games, movies, Bible studies or just good conversation over ice cream or coffee, you can find an activity to dive right into.
When you're not part of a congregation, it can feel like your lifeline to prayer and other Christian support has been cut. Obviously, that's not true in many cases. Keep in touch with your old congregation by following email and phone prayer trees and tuning in to social media pages and recorded sermons. You can still pray for all the people in those ministries and the prayer requests raised by congregants.
Don't be afraid to reach out to your old pastors or friends in the church. Ask them to include you and your concerns on their prayer lists so you can rest assured that old friends and powerful prayer warriors you know are praying for you.
You also don't have to stick with that one option for corporate prayer. Look around your faith-based assisted living community to find options to pray for or with others and ask others for their prayers.
Older adults who leave their home churches for an assisted living community might think they're on their own for Bible study. When you choose a faith-based senior living community, you can bet there'll be Bible study options on-site you can join in on. You may even have access to on-site chaplains who can discuss spiritual concerns with you.
Missing the traditions and familiarity you've come to rely on is completely normal when you leave a home church due to a move into assisted living. But that move doesn't end your relationship with God and with his people. When you choose a faith-based community, you can rely on other residents and caring staff to help you build new traditions and fellowship during this exciting chapter of your life.